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6-minute read

Dog Nutritional Needs to Help Pets Recover Faster from Paw Pad Issues

Dog reaching out, showing paw pads up close.
Dr. Dana Tomlinson

Global RNS Species Leader – Specialty
Zinpro Corporation

When we look at our dogs and cats, we typically observe them from above and assume everything looks okay. But what we often miss are their paws. Paw pads are easy to overlook simply because they’re out of sight most of the time. But if your pet is exposed to extreme conditions or abrasive surfaces, paw pads can become damaged. Below are three common scenarios that compromise paw pad integrity, along with some simple things you can do, like addressing cat and dog nutritional needs, to help them recover faster.

  • Extreme Cold: With winter just around the corner, pet owners should remember to be careful in extreme cold. Temperatures below freezing can quickly cause frostbite to the paw pad. Frostbite is like a burning of the skin’s surface, so initially it’ll turn black and then become inflamed and irritated. Frostbite will start off numb but will eventually cause pain and discomfort. If you notice your dog or cat “dancing” around after a walk out in the cold, it might be suffering from frostbite, requiring a visit to your veterinarian.
  • Extreme Heat: Summer heat can cause heat stress in dogs and cats — but it can also be very damaging to their paws. Dogs are typically more exposed to extremely hot surfaces because they follow us wherever we go, whereas cats usually determine their own path when they’re outside. When we walk our dogs, our footwear provides a layer of protection between our own feet and the hot asphalt or cement surface. That means we sometimes forget what that same experience is like for a dog. You may think that because a dog or cat’s paws are hyperkeratinized (i.e., thicker and tougher) and surrounded by hair, your pet can withstand these higher contact temperatures. While these animals can tolerate harsher conditions, they’re still subject to contact burns, which are not only painful but can cause permanent damage to their feet. When you’re walking a dog on a hot summer day, watch it closely for discomfort and allow your pet to walk in the cooler grass as much as possible.
  • Sand, Chemicals and Salt: Sand can be abrasive to pads, wearing away the thick calloused tissue and cause irritation. Chemicals (e.g. many ice melt products) and salt may damage soft tissues of the footpad and interdigital space by causing chemical burns. While your pet’s footpads are relatively tough, the interdigital spaces have thinner, more sensitive skin that can be prone to irritation. If your dog or cat walks on treated roads or surfaces, wash their feet to prevent issues with their pads — and to prevent them from licking off the chemicals.

What Signs Should I Look For?

Excessive grooming of the feet is the first sign you should look for in both dogs and cats. It may just be a hair mat, an obstruction between the pads, or something like a thorn, but if you notice excessive grooming, you should investigate. An animal acting light-footed or wanting to lie down more than normal may also indicate paw pad issues that require attention.

Pet owners should routinely evaluate paw pad integrity to make sure the pads are smooth, plump and healthy. Pads that are flat, dry, cracked and/or irregular can be signs of not only nutritional deficiency but other problems in the body, such as disease or infection.

What Are the Benefits of Trace Minerals and How Do They Help Speed Recovery?

Zinc plays a key role in the production of healthy skin tissue, especially in the hyperkeratinized tissues of the nose, tongue and footpad. These tougher tissues are very zinc-dependent. The zinc available in Zinpro Performance Minerals® has been shown to enhance the production of healthy tissues.

If your pet is suffering from poor pad quality, you should visit your veterinarian for a routine examination. If you discover your pet suffers from a genetic inability to absorb sufficient zinc or simply has a dietary insufficiency, chelated zinc from Zinpro Performance Minerals is instrumental in helping remediate both in a more timely manner, whereas common inorganic zinc (zinc oxide or zinc sulfate) doesn’t work well for pets with genetic disorders. To help speed recovery, you can supplement your pet’s diet with TruCare® Essentials, which has all the key components — zinc, Biotin, Vitamin A and essential fatty acids (EPA/DHA) — for the production of healthy skin and footpads.

Calcium is also important to the production and maintenance of keratinized tissues. Zinc is required for activation of the calcium-dependent enzymes in this process. Most dogs or cats consume a calcium-sufficient diet, but if they don’t, you might see damaged or irregular paw pad integrity as a result.

Manganese, copper and selenium are also key trace minerals that help control inflammation in cats and dogs and maintain the integrity of heavily keratinized tissues. The benefits of trace minerals like these are many.

How Long Will it Take Before Seeing Results from Performance Trace Minerals?

It really depends on the severity of the issue. If it’s a typical irritation problem (no open, active lesions or breaks in the skin), it will still take three to six weeks for true recovery because animals build healthy paw pads from the inside out — at the same time, they’re wearing down what’s on the outside. It will likely take some patience on your part to help your pet get back to normal.

Check Your Pet’s Paw Pads Routinely

As a pet owner, be sensitive to paw pad integrity in your family companion. If you can’t evaluate them weekly or monthly, do it at least seasonally. Just as we see changes in our bodies in different seasons of the year, when low humidity and cold winters can dry out our skin, we should evaluate the integrity of our pets’ paw pads to ensure they’re staying hydrated and healthy. In the summer, our pets spend more time outside, so they’re more subjected to environmental allergens, cuts, scrapes, tears, hot surfaces and even exposure to fertilizers and chemicals in our yards.

Make a mental note to check out the paw pads the next time you’re sitting with your pet. If you see indications of damage — or if you notice your pet abnormally licking or rubbing a footpad — address it right away. Talk to your veterinarian and ask if Zinpro Performance Trace Minerals can help you get your pet back to normal faster.

To learn more about the benefits of trace minerals and cat and dog nutritional needs, visit the companion animal page of our website.

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